I worked at the Ganon Baker Oakville camp this week, hosted by Coach Pat Traynor. During free shoot-around time, a young girl approached me with an excellent question. She wanted to know how she should receive the ball to get her shot off more quickly.
I asked her to show me what she currently does. I had her move around baseline to free throw line extend and back a few times while I passed her the ball. She would catch the ball as if to shoot then pass it back to me. I had her do this from both sides of the floor. I had her repeat the exercise, but this time I asked her to shoot while I observed. This young girl had a lot of up-side her shot-readiness.
1. She was squaring up to the rim on the catch: She had her feet pointed to the rim, and her shoulders square to the rim. This is excellent and shaves time off, when trying to get your shot off. This also means she is making eye contact with the rim early.
2. She was athletic when receiving the ball: Her knees were already bent and she was ready to get up into her shot. She was playing low to high. I see players at much older ages; play high to low to high after the catch. Playing low to high will also allow you to get your shot off quicker. A key point should be, always cut in athletic stance and maintain this stance when get to your spot and are receiving the pass.
3. She was ripping the ball to her hip: This isn’t necessarily wrong; the ball is certainly well protected, but her hip is not her shooting-pocket. Her shooting-pocket was higher. That means additional movement in her shot while moving the ball from her hip into and through her shooting pocket. More movement in the shot means more places for error, it takes more time for the release, and you are less likely to have a one-piece or one-motion shot.
a. You will see some players use this extra downward swing of the ball from shot-pocket, to hip or below, and back up again to gain power for distance in their shot. Also players will sometimes draw the ball back to the crown of their heads to gain power in their shot (I call this the catapult.)These two methods of gaining force in your shot are of course mistakes, and are not good substitutes for using the up force in your legs to lift your shot. Your arms and hands are very complicated. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in your body. The elbow has both a hinge motion and a pronation/supination motion. The hand has 27 bones. We want to minimize the motion of our hands and arms in ours shots, and use the less complicated joints and much stronger muscles of our lower body for lift. Essentially we want to shoot with our bodies and direct the balls flight with our arms and hands.
b. Shot-pocket, shot-pocket, wherefore for art thou? Each person’s body mechanics are slightly different. As a result each person’s shot-pockets can be different but will be located somewhere between the top of the hip to the brow. When a players starts their jump-shot in athletic stances, note where the ball is in relationship to the top of their hip and brow, when they begin their upward motion. This will be their shot-pocket. Make sure there is no high-to-low-to-high motion in their shot. You must note where the ball is, in relationship to their hip and brow ,when the up force of their jump begins.
Here are the things I added to what she was already doing, so that she was able to get off a quicker shot.
1. Call for the ball with your voice: Draw attention from the passer by calling his/her name, or use the hoot if that works for you. Assuming you are getting the ball from a player that has good court vision, you are probably never more open then when you first get the ball. Sometimes you need to bring this to the attention of the player with the ball.
2. Call for the ball with your hand(s): The placement of your hands is important. Your hand(s) should be at the height of your shot-pocket. I say the height, because if you are able to receive the ball with only one hand and bring it into your shot pocket, then the hand closest to the passer can be shot-pocket height but slightly outside your body. E.g, if you are on the right hand side of the court receiving a pass from your left, you are able to catch/guide the ball one handed, do so with your left hand, and bring the ball to your shot-pocket. This will allow you to have your torsos square to the hoop. If you are not at the level of guiding the ball into your shot-pocket with one hand, then you should have both hands receive the pass. Have your hands in the configuration where your guide hand is on the side of the ball and slightly forward, and your shooting hand has a wrinkled wrist and is behind the ball. Basically catch the so your hands are ready to shoot with good form.
a. If you receive the ball in your shot-pocket, you are more likely to have a one-piece or one- motion shot. One-piece shot provides a quicker release. Hitches to look out for:
1) ball below your shot-pocket = extra motion
2) releasing the ball at the top of your jump and not just before. The further out you are from the rim, the sooner in your jump the ball should be released to take advantage of your body’s up force.
Of course it goes without saying, great passers give you more time. A pass right on your target is much quicker to release. Too bad passing is one of the most under taught skills.
Recap of Teachables for Quick Release
1. Be in athletic stance.
2. Have feet pointed towards the rim
3. Be square to the rim. Torso square to the rim.
4. Get early eye contact with the rim.
5. Call for the ball with your voice and your hands. Give targets with hand(s) at your shot pocket
6. Have a one-piece shot